- My holy crap moment for this class and semester started happening last week and hasn’t stopped. Here it goes: “Holy crap I have to start a career!” I’ve pinpointed a few positions that I consider dream jobs and am anxiously waiting to hear back from them.
- How will JOUR 4470 help me in my career? Well, I can have an educated conversation about the array of ethical theories. I can apply what I learned through researching case studies to real world ethical issues. For instance, if for some reason I ever work at a pizza place, I now know not to post a video of me pushing a fart out on someone’s lunch. That would be very egotistical of me and would not follow the rules of communitarianism, utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and most other ethical theories. (I really hope I don’t have to make that decision one day). Joking aside, I really can use the “stuff” I learned in class.
- What I got out of the class? This is my last JOUR class ever. This class reaffirmed how strongly I feel about the UNT Ad/Jour program. Seriously. Great teachers, smart kids and fun classes. Doing homework for JOUR 4470 didn’t feel like homework (except for case 1 for reasons you are aware of). I really love how much freedom we have in our upper level JOUR classes. That’s what makes assignments not feel like homework.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Crazy Tale of the Walking Fingers
JOUR 4470 Blog 4
By: Michael Haake
In this version of Michael Haake’s Blog I will discuss the story of the AT&T Walking Fingers trademark and anything else that’s relevant to this story or just funny.
All right, let’s do this.
As I am sure the audience that grew up in the dark ages before Google became a noun and a verb know, a copy of the Yellow Pages was a must have in every household. It provided business owners with customers through advertising and even helped you find the phone numbers to those businesses advertising. The Walking Fingers logo is synonymous with the Yellow Pages. If you care to read more on the history of the logo, click here.
This case intrigues me for many reasons. The biggest reason is because I interned with AT&T in Atlanta, GA this summer. Talking with people who have been with the company since the mid 80’s and reading about the trademark issue while in training really shocked me. In case you didn’t click the link in the last paragraph, or haven’t heard about what I am referring to, the logo depicted above was originally made for the AT&T Yellow Pages. Today a version of this logo can be found on nearly every other company’s version of the Yellow Pages. And if you didn’t know why you receive so many copies of the Yellow Pages on your doorstep, it’s because there are multiple businesses that produce a version of the Yellow Pages.
At the time AT&T (when I refer to AT&T I am talking about South Western Bell and all of the company’s other branches that specialize in local advertising in the Yellow Pages. There have been multiple additions and mergers, but just know that I am referring to the AT&T’s version of the Yellow Pages which is actually now called The AT&T Real Yellow Pages) neglected to trademark this logo. After other businesses caught on, it was too late for AT&T to trademark the logo.
This move is considered one of the worst business decisions/mishaps the company has ever experienced (they literally say that in the training manual, which I can not provide in this blog).
What I can’t get over is the fact that the company had its identity pretty much stolen and put on similar products. It also amazes me that whoever the first non-AT&T company to use this logo had the balls to do it. But, I guess that’s capitalism. Some people might not understand why this whole story is a big deal. To those people I’ll provide you some examples in the next paragraph.
Why is this a big deal? This is pretty much the equivalent to those companies that sell the knock off designer products. Sure the product looks the same as the one that sells for hundreds of dollars more, but it is not the same. What would happen if some small coffee shop started using cups with the same mermaid logo that Starbucks uses? The cups look the same, but what you are paying for inside is completely different (and in this example much cheaper). I’m not saying that what the other businesses have in their Yellow Pages is anything less in quality, but is the information behind the Walking Fingers logo of Company X’s book follow the same guidelines that AT&T’s book does? Whether the information is the exact same or not is besides the point. AT&T’s negligence in not trade marking the logo allowed for imposter businesses to provide the same product.
As you have probably realized by now, I am sort of a homer when it comes to this story. While I completely understand the concept behind getting logos trademarked, it still upsets me that a company can let this happen. If you were not aware of this story, I hope you learned something. Once again, for much more information check out the link at either the top of the story or under my sources.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
How The Tim Tebow Story is Both an Ethical and PR Issue
JOUR 4470 Blog 3
By: Michael Haake
I like to think of public relations professionals as professional get-out-of-jail for almost free specialists. From an advertising prospective, PR professionals fix the mistakes that result in bad business decisions and idiotic advertising moves. (The very idea that Gucci thought this would be a good way to market its product is puzzling to say the least). I don’t know if this is the right way to think about PR and ethical theories, but I’ll give you another opinion. Public relations professionals are the ethical police. They are there to ensure that a company (or in today’s world even a celebrity) follows an ethical road when making decisions. The PRSSA can be talked about endlessly, so I’ll avoid referring to it in this blog, but if you would like to read about it you can do so here. This addition of Michael Haake’s Blog will focus on a single PR case and how it applies to the ethical theory communitarianism.
Let’s start this thing.
Everyone and their brother know about the big PR nightmares that have happened over the past 20 years. There are countless stories and opinions about those PR incidents. It doesn’t seem right to make someone read about those stories over and over again… Right? What about a story that you have heard about recently (unless you live in box and have no idea that the Houston Oilers are now the Tennessee Titans or that Bill Clinton liked his intern)? I’m talking about the trade that landed Tim Tebow in New York. One might ask how heck this applies to ethics and PR. Well, it does and the overall best PR solution is very unclear. I’ll let you be the judge on this one.
Think about it. Tebow, the unconventional quarterback that stands for everything that is right in the world, going to a team with locker room issues and a quarterback (Mark Sanchez) who just signed a 3 year extension. By acquiring Tim Tebow, the New York Jets have started a communitarian problem. The theory of communitarianism suggests that an individual has a responsibility towards his or her community. If we look at the Jets team as a community or family unit this theory can be applied. Mike Tannenbaum, the general manager of the Jets not only started a PR fiasco by trading for Tebow, but also caused this ethical dilemma inside the locker room. There is an audio segment on audio.weei.com that discusses the PR nightmare that the Jets brought upon itself that brings up some good points.
While Tim Tebow is an extremely positive presence to bring into a slumping locker room, he also brings what is known as Tebow Mania. Is it fair to put Mark Sanchez through the future boo’s and Tebow chants whenever he makes a mistake? Or is it worth bringing Tebow to the team in order to help bring success to the organization? If we look at this scenario through communitarianism, two arguments can be made and PR professionals might be split even on the outcome.
The first argument supports Mark Sanchez and his right to avoid the heavy criticism that will come with Tebow. Communitarianism comes into play because the addition of Tebow affects the overall fellowship or togetherness of an individual (Sanchez) inside of the community of the Jets. This scenario also affects non-players working in the offices of the community. Can you imagine all the press conferences that front office and coaching personnel will have to conduct if Sanchez goes on a cold streak? What happens if the Jets tell the media that they wish to continue with Sanchez and have no plans on starting Tebow? If this were to happen, you can guarantee that the Tebow Mania bandwagon will start a PR nightmare of endless media segments and stories for Jets fans. If this side of the argument is taken, it is against communitarianism to bring Tebow to the team.
The second argument supports Tim Tebow and his right to help the community of the Jets win. Jets head coach, Rex Ryan (the dude with the foot fetish and wild antics) described the role Tebow will play in an article posted on nydailynews.com. In short Tebow will be involved in a lot of different aspects of the offence. I’ll call it a hybrid role. If Tebow embraces his hybrid backup role and the tandem of he and Sanchez provides a spark the team needs to win, according to communitarianism, the Jets made the right move. In this scenario, having Tebow on the team positively affects the Jets community. Both quarterbacks look like heroes and the Jets organization provide great PR to its fans.
This case is definitely a weird one. I personally don’t know where I side on it (I’ll let you know my opinion if this affects my fantasy team). Both sides of this ethical argument have valid points. The overall issue that will decide the rightness or wrongness of the argument relies on something that hasn’t happened. How will this play out? Will this lead the Jets to success, or will it bring failure? When week 3 of the upcoming NFL season arrives those questions will be answered and we’ll find out if the Jets are on the good or bad side of PR.
What have we learned? Well, we learned that the Tim Tebow case actually can be applied to PR and the ethical theory of communitarianism. Having Tebow play for the Jets can be both detrimental and positive for the Jets community. PR professionals and the general sports fan can argue the rightness or wrongness associated with Tebow and the Jets. We also learned that it is possible to discuss the Houston Oilers, the Bill Clinton scandal and Tim Tebow in a single paragraph.
I chose to write my blog on this topic because I thought that it was not only going to be unique compared to the rest of the blogs submitted, but also a very weird PR/ethical issue. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed it.
Friday, February 24, 2012
JOUR 4470 Blog 2
By: Michael Haake
O the bizarre world of advertising. An industry where the Most Interesting Man in the World can convince thousands of people to pick up a case of Mexico’s finest cervaza (beer) simply by saying a little tagline. Sure, all the little Chuck Norris joke inspired phrases for the first 25-seconds of the commercial are fictional, but they make us laugh every time (okay maybe you won’t laugh after the 10th time it has aired). Are ads like these ethical? I think that they are when looking from a utilitarian point-of-view. The crazy thing about ethical theories such as utilitarianism and deontology is that while the concept of what they stand for remains the same, the way we argue with them has changed dramatically over our history.
When we consider the ethical or in some cases unethical practices of advertising, one thing we need to keep in mind is how much our society has changed over the past 50-years. We have become a society that requires entertainment, and not just something that keeps our eyes amused for a couple of minutes. We need laughter, action and sex appeal.
The concept of black and white television seems about as old as that big reptile skeleton you see at the museum. In my opinion, the same can be said about advertising that just says “buy product x because it will help you” (in some sort of lame jingle). Where are the cars, or the guy getting hit in the privates, or the really hot babe in a swimsuit?
The theory of utilitarianism is an ends-based ethical theory that stresses that an action is good if it brings happiness/goodness to the greatest number of people. In other words the majority rules. In a society that craves laughter and action, is it safe to say that the majority of people would prefer advertising that entertains the viewer while it sells to them? If we follow the theory of utilitarianism, I think that it is safe to say that the majority of people prefer advertising that entertains.
An article published on twistimage.com gives a great example on how the use of utilitarianism and entertainment can create life-long customers. In the example a marketing team has a great idea for a new app, but managers aren’t sure if it will work without stating the four brand messages. “If you give something to people that they actually want to use.... no, need to use, they will love you and be loyal to you forever.” It’s about giving the consumer something they want. A company that takes a hit financially during the short-term by providing something for free has a good chance at being remembered the next time a customer is in need of your product or service.
I think that advertising produced with utilitarian characteristics make for some of the best ads. Does somebody get pissed off about it when the ads air? Yes, but we are talking about humans here, and humans will get pissed off about anything (if you’re in the mood to laugh and have some time to kill, check out this guy’s website (Warning some inappropriate language), he gets pissed about everything from elevators to Ray Ramano).
On a less funny (I’m sorry, I’ll try to end this thing with a bang) and more serious side of ethics in advertising, Immanuel Kant’s theory can be used extremely well when companies are facing troubled times or PR nightmares. I think that the best and most recent example of Kant-styled advertising is the campaign BP is doing for the Gulf. Yes, BP really, really (emphasis on the second “really”) screwed up. However, they have made a good effort at fixing the mistake and admitting to the error. This new campaign focuses on increasing tourism in areas that were affected by the oil spill.
This type of campaign inspired by Kant’s ideology not only makes BP look like it actually cares about the people and environment affected by the oil, but it also gets people like me to consider eating something from the gulf (probably won’t happen in my case). In my opinion, this campaign comes off as truth for the right reasons.
Whether advertising follows Kant, utilitarianism or no apparent ethics at all, it is important to remember that advertising has changed through time. It is always changing and adapting just like our society is always changing and adapting. There are certain elements to advertising that will never change. I don’t think we will ever see a commercial without some sort of brand or product (unless some rich guy just gets really bored). I also think advertising will continue to follow traditional ethical theories because these theories are always relevant and can be applied in different ways in future dilemmas. History repeats itself. Who knows? Maybe 20-years from now QuikTrip will need to put together a campaign like BP’s current one, or even a campaign debuting the Most Interesting Gas Station Attendant.
Interesting Man Meme
Big Lebowski Meme
Friday, January 27, 2012
Jour 4470 Blog 1
By: Michael Haake
The world gets faster and smarter with the continuing advancement of technology. The Internet allows us to post a thought or idea on social media for the entire world to see with a forceful push on the enter key. With this insanely fast technology, it’s really easy for someone to say something that they end up regretting seconds after posting it. Sure, they can delete the Tweet or status, but there is no guarantee that the Tweet or comment did not get seen during the small amount of time it was published. It seems like there is a story everyday about some athlete or celebrity posting something controversial on Twitter. We all need to think before we Tweet. The need for ethics in business, media and personal Tweeting is at an all-time high.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of idiots out there on the web. What these people don’t realize is that everything they post is a direct reflection on not only themselves, but also to their family, friends, employers and business partners.
My personal favorite example comes to us from @ChryslerAutos. An upset and now unknown New Media Strategies employee was driving in Detroit when he or she dropped the F-bomb on Chrysler’s official Twitter. The Tweet also took a shot at the city of Detroit, the home of Chrysler Group LLC.
The employee who posted this was under the impression that he or she was posting on a personal Twitter account. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I sign in to Twitter I see a nice little picture of myself smiling back at me. I guess this person forgot that his or her name wasn’t Chrysler Autos. The Tweet was eventually taken down, but it came at a very hefty price. New Media Solutions lost the account and now they get to explain how and why this incident happened to every potential new business partner smart enough to use Google. The unobservant employee who gave us this shinning, unethical Twitter gold was fired within hours of this Tweet.
Twitter not only allows businesses to reach thousands of people, it also provides the opportunity for a single employee to start a media fire that only the public relations department can put out. Let’s be smarter with social media people.
In my Twitter lifetime, the groups of people that most often find themselves in the midst of Twitter controversy are athletes. In the case of my news feed, it’s usually NFL wide receivers and running backs. It’s weird, I’ve never seen a kicker or a long snapper tweet about 9/11 or how they are enjoying a lockout. Here are a couple examples from running backs Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers) and Reggie Bush (Saints at the time and now Dolphins), enjoy.
Do you think the owners and general managers for the teams of these two players were happy when this happened? I’d put my money on the not-so-happy side of the table. Tweets like these have caused the NFL to take action on players who willingly choose to cause online controversy.
Twitter became such an increasingly big issue that the NFL had to implement a social media code of conduct. Players are still allowed to Tweet, however they cannot Tweet 90-minutes before games and are also banned from Twitter until all post game interviews are complete. Even with the new Twitter policy, players still manage to post unethical and downright stupid things for the entire world of sports-dorks such as myself to see.
Mr. Mendenhall, thanks for your political insight regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden, but I’ll get my political news from someone who isn’t wearing a hoodie in his profile picture.
So what have we learned? Well, we learned that Twitter can be used as a means to kill a business such as New Media Strategies. (I wonder if that employee ever found a job in the social media industry after that… probably not). It is important to remember that other people are affected when you need to get something off of your chest via Twitter. So, before you call out an entire city of drivers take a deep breath and think about the way you are going to say it, or at least make sure you’re on your personal account.
Without some form of ethics, Tweets like these would be even more commonplace than they are today. These Tweets can fall under an array of genres. The adjectives idiotic, senseless and unethical describe them pretty well. Whatever you deem them, they are bad for business. Until Microsoft or Twitter invents an ethical checker that can warn individuals that his or her 160-characters might not be a good statement to post, unethical and careless Tweets will continue to clog up our news feeds.